Popular subscription retail services require expertly managed supply chains in order to make good on customer expectations.
For today’s consumers, convenience is a cardinal virtue of the e-commerce economy. From order fulfillment on a one- to two-day delivery horizon to customizable drop-off times, it’s never been easier for online shoppers to find what they need and receive it in a way that fits their lifestyle.
Nowhere is this truer than in subscription retail. This model, one in which customers sign up online for monthly or weekly deliveries of certain products — and sometimes even more frequent than that — has given new meaning to “set it and forget it.” Indeed, businesses such as Blue Apron and Dollar Shave Club have pioneered new ways of reaching prospects, impressing upon them the value of recurring deliveries, and ordering supply chains to meet consumer needs.
Supply chain managers developing logistics strategies that can accommodate subscription retail are well aware of the challenges this model presents. Whether they’re shipping perishable foods for meal subscription services or securing products from multiple vendors for curated product packages, keeping pace with the growth of subscription services can seem daunting. Thankfully, however, experienced logistics providers have the resources and know-how needed to boost customer satisfaction and secure long-term loyalty — i.e., the essential ingredients of e-commerce success.
The Growing Popularity of Subscription Retail
To say that subscription retail is popular would be an understatement. In fact, the market in this space has grown by more than 100% every year for the past five years. While this is a testament to the ability of these new companies to target lucrative niches and capitalize on emerging consumer behavior, they’re not alone.
Larger retailers intent on adapting to e-commerce have incorporated subscription retail options of their own. Walmart’s Beauty Box and Sephora’s Play! are just two examples of in-house concepts, while Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club back in 2016.
For consumers, the ability to bypass the store and enjoy new products on a regular basis are key factors of the subscription retail craze. Although purchasing items in person is consistently cheaper, these services curate every point of contact in a way that e-commerce customers have come to expect — and crave.
How Subscription Retail Benefits Businesses
Subscription retail isn’t just convenient for consumers, however; it offers significant advantages for companies that have the ability to adapt their supply chain to e-commerce demands — or the partners to help them do it.
Indeed, the subscription model in which customers sign-up for monthly or weekly deliveries makes it easier for businesses to predict future sales and prepare for surges in demand. Additionally, the wealth of data provided by consumers who engage with brands on a regular basis can support subscriptions retailers attempting to personalize services, maintain their inventory, and expand their product offerings to better fit user preferences.
The Logistical Demands of Subscription Retail
Given these benefits, the subscription retail trend makes sense. With that said, preparing supply chains for this volume of business is challenging.
When it comes to meal subscription services, for example, supply chain managers need all the infrastructural support they can get. Competent warehouse employees need to pick and pack meal kits to reflect customer expectations and dietary restrictions. Carriers need to keep perishable goods in safe, edible condition. Last mile delivery needs to execute fulfillment timelines that can be increasingly difficult to make good on — but that e-commerce consumers have come to expect as a given.
Where Primary Freight Fits In
The essential asks of subscription retail are well within the range of current shipping and logistics technology. However, readying your team and updating your supply chain capabilities to accommodate heightened demand calls for substantial investment, training, and preparation. While larger brands such as Blue Apron have the resources required, more modest operations may need additional support. With a third-party logistics (3PL) partner or integrated logistics services provider (ISP), for example, businesses expanding into subscription retail can gain the infrastructure they need to thrive.
With over twenty years of experience in the shipping and logistics industry, Primary Freight represents the best of both worlds. Our award-winning customer service team and hands-on approach to custom fulfillment solutions bring the expertise and attention of a smaller firm to bear on your business needs, while our cutting-edge logistics infrastructure and technology can support your operation with the resources of a larger industry player. For brands preparing for e-commerce success, Primary Freight is uniquely positioned to drive value and boost short- and long-term ROI.
To learn more about Primary Freight’s award-winning shipping and logistics services, give us a call today at (800)-635-0013.